Swedish authorities formally charged a 26-year-old Hungarian man with industrial espionage on Tuesday, charging him with hacking into the Sony Ericsson and Ericsson intranets.
Csaba Richter told officials he hacked into the intranets hoping that Sony Ericsson or Ericsson would hire him when they saw his skills, Chief District Prosecutor Tomas Lindstrand said.
Richter allegedly hacked into the computer systems from his home in a small town north of Budapest from March 2002 until June 2004. He has admitted to stealing documents containing information about telecommunications, Lindstrand said.
"It's made clear from the way he has done this and how systematically he has been working that he is extremely knowledgeable in computing," said Lindstrand, adding that the suspect started to play with computers as a kid, although he has not worked in IT. "His motive, as he puts it, is to show Ericsson in what bad state their security is -- look what I can do! He says that he was hoping they would hire him when they understood his skills and knowledge."
Ericsson and Lindstrand declined to provide details about the allegedly stolen data. "Some of the information will be presented as evidence in the court. Other than that we don't make any comments," said Ase Lindskog, director of media relations at Ericsson.
One charge in the indictment is "unauthorized handling of secret information" revealing links to Swedish national defense. "The fact that he got his hands on some of the information can cause harm to the national security," Lindstrand said. Other charges include unauthorized handling of secret information obtained by illegally accessing computer systems.
Ericsson and the Swedish police said that Richter never forwarded the illegally obtained information to a third party despite the fact that he offered it for sale on the Internet.
"We tried for a long time to open his cryptographed CDs containing the information but didn't succeed. We had to let him do it," said Lindstrand.
Ericsson customers were not affected by the alleged hacking, the company said.
The trial will take place in Stockholm city court next Tuesday.
In 2002 two other men were convicted in Sweden for industrial espionage against Ericsson. The men, one of them an Ericsson employee, smuggled the information out of the country and sold it to a Russian intelligence officer.